Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tips for Dealing with Depression

Here are some tips to help you deal with your depression:

Be social. Even though you might not feel sociable (and, in fact, probably don't), do not give in to your inclination to isolate yourself. Try to get out, even for a short time, among people whose company you enjoy.

Exercise!  Most of us don't really like to exercise, but, exercise helps people to feel good because it releases endorphins. Find a friend or ask your partner to walk with you. 

Get some sunlight. Try taking a short walk, preferably in the morning sunshine, as exposure to sunlight can positively affect your mood.

Join a spiritual community. Find a local church or synagogue and start attending regularly; religious involvement has been shown to have long-term benefits for those who participate. And you just might find yourself becoming part of a community with similar values. But, be wary of "overly-religious" people who either complain all the time or expect God to solve all their problems.

Share your troubles. You may want to confide in a close friend or family member. Sometimes, it really does help to talk. (This is not, of course, meant to substitute for a therapist or other qualified professional.)

Get a pet. Assuming you're not allergic and you like and can care for (and are able to keep) a dog, cat or other animal, you may want to explore this option. It's well documented that animals have a therapeutic value for humans. Even watching a tank of fish swimming, it's said, can help generate a feeling of calm.

Laugh! Although you may feel bleak, remember the saying that “laughter is good for the soul.” Watch a movie that makes you laugh. (The Marx Brothers? Tootsie? A romantic comedy?) Listening to music you enjoy may also help lighten your mood. Don't forget to sing along. Singing can be a great blues buster, too.

Get a hobby. Do you love photography? Do you love to paint? Do you love gardening? How about writing? Keeping a journal has been shown to have a healing effect. Or work on writing something even more creative: a book, a play, a song or poem, or what-have-you. Creativity is thought to release endorphins, the brain's so-called “feel good” chemicals.

Any kind of creative activity, such as painting, writing, or dancing, can help you to feel good. Doing something for yourself that you really love will put you in a totally different frame of mind.
Note: Dance or other physical activities carry the added benefit of being good exercise.  

Be a servant. Do something nice for someone else. Seek out volunteer opportunities; get ideas and local referrals through charitable organizations, your place of worship, the newspaper, or online. Whether it's dropping in to visit a lonely older neighbor or spending the afternoon preparing bags at your local food bank, if you feel as you're contributing to the world around you (and you are!), you will likely begin to feel more a part of it.

Eat well. Giving in to sugar cravings will almost certainly make you feel worse ultimately, as will not eating very much. Eating balanced meals and drinking plenty of water will probably help to stabilize your mood.

Dress up. Sometimes it can feel cozy just to laze around (especially when the weather outside is bad) in soft, worn, not-very-presentable clothing. However, like just about anything else, too much of it probably won't be good for you. Even if you're only going to the corner store for a quart of milk, make an effort to look nice. You may just find that you feel better, too.

Be positive. Act as if you feel better than you do. Sigh contentedly. Smile. Say out loud, “What a gorgeous day!” (Or maybe, “I like rain.”) “I feel great!” Think about one thing, or more, that you feel truly happy (or at least pretty good) about.
Try light therapy. If you suffer from seasonal depression or “winter blues,” (also known as “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD) you might want to consider adding light therapy to your routine. (Some people use it for non-seasonal depression, as well.)

SAD is common in residents of northern climates where there is insufficient sunlight throughout the winter months. Generally, light therapy involves sitting in front of a specially designed lamp or light box for a specified period each morning, often thirty to sixty minutes. Many types of light boxes are available.

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